Microsoft blames server problem for Hotmail outage

Microsoft says it has fixed a problem with its Windows Live Hotmail service that temporarily deleted the e-mail of more than 17,000 users.

The trouble began on Dec. 30 when the e-mail in 17,355 accounts disappeared. On Monday, a Microsoft executive wrote that the company had identified the technical glitch and restored e-mail to the affected accounts by Sunday night.

"Customers impacted temporarily lost the contents of their mailbox through the course of mailbox load balancing between servers," wrote Chris Jones, a corporate vice president with Windows Live Engineering, on a company [blog]. "As with all incidents like this, we will fully investigate the cause and will take steps to prevent this from happening again. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused to you, our customers and partners."

Users created a Facebook group that outlined their problems with Hotmail. Some users reported that their e-mail had indeed been restored by Sunday night, but others noticed inconsistencies.

Several people wrote that their e-mails had been restored but that they were missing new ones sent since Dec. 30, the day the outage occurred. Company officials wrote on another [forum] that the issue was resolved by Sunday night.

Microsoft uses its SQL Server to manage Hotmail in what it says is the largest deployment of its product in the world, using tens of thousands of SQL databases.

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